Google Cloud SDK on EV3

  • Google Cloud SDK on EV3

A fellow from PLUG defied me to show a LEGO robot that translates conversation, much like the C3PO protocol droid from Star Wars.
I only had a couple of hours so I decided to copy the Raspsberry Pi approach of using “the Cloud”. Google offers a one year free trial so I registered and tried a few examples on my Ubuntu laptop, amazing what one can do with just a few curl commands!

So, how to use Google Cloud SDK directly from LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3?

Google has a repository for Debian but it doesn’t work with ev3dev – there are no packages for the ARM architecture. But I found someone saying that he managed to install the x86 tar.gz package on his Raspberry Pi so.. why not give it a try? And yes, it really works.

So this is the process to install Google Cloud SDK on EV3 running ev3dev. It was tested with a fresh installation of the latest release available today, “2017-06-09”

Linux ev3dev 4.4.68-20-ev3dev-ev3 #1 PREEMPT Mon May 15 12:45:40 CDT 2017 armv5tejl GNU/Linux

No dependencies needed – just download the most recent of the “Versioned archives” available for download:


Then just extract it and run the install script:

tar -xvf google-cloud-sdk-158.0.0-linux-x86.tar.gz

The install takes 5 minutes:

Welcome to the Google Cloud SDK!

To help improve the quality of this product, we collect anonymized usage data
and anonymized stacktraces when crashes are encountered; additional information
is available at <>. You may choose
to opt out of this collection now (by choosing 'N' at the below prompt), or at
any time in the future by running the following command:

gcloud config set disable_usage_reporting true

Do you want to help improve the Google Cloud SDK (Y/n)? N

Your current Cloud SDK version is: 158.0.0
The latest available version is: 158.0.0

| Components |
| Status | Name | ID | Size |
| Not Installed | Cloud Datalab Command Line Tool | datalab | < 1 MiB |
| Not Installed | Cloud Datastore Emulator | cloud-datastore-emulator | 15.4 MiB |
| Not Installed | Cloud Datastore Emulator (Legacy) | gcd-emulator | 38.1 MiB |
| Not Installed | Cloud Pub/Sub Emulator | pubsub-emulator | 21.0 MiB |
| Not Installed | gcloud Alpha Commands | alpha | < 1 MiB |
| Not Installed | gcloud Beta Commands | beta | < 1 MiB |
| Not Installed | gcloud app Java Extensions | app-engine-java | 132.2 MiB |
| Not Installed | gcloud app Python Extensions | app-engine-python | 6.4 MiB |
| Installed | BigQuery Command Line Tool | bq | < 1 MiB |
| Installed | Cloud SDK Core Libraries | core | 6.1 MiB |
| Installed | Cloud Storage Command Line Tool | gsutil | 2.9 MiB |
| Installed | Default set of gcloud commands | gcloud | |
To install or remove components at your current SDK version [158.0.0], run:
 $ gcloud components install COMPONENT_ID
 $ gcloud components remove COMPONENT_ID

To update your SDK installation to the latest version [158.0.0], run:
 $ gcloud components update

Modify profile to update your $PATH and enable shell command 

Do you want to continue (Y/n)? Y

The Google Cloud SDK installer will now prompt you to update an rc 
file to bring the Google Cloud CLIs into your environment.

Enter a path to an rc file to update, or leave blank to use 

Backing up [/home/robot/.bashrc] to [/home/robot/.bashrc.backup].
[/home/robot/.bashrc] has been updated.

==> Start a new shell for the changes to take effect.

For more information on how to get started, please visit:

Now exit from the SSH session and login again. The SDK commands should be available so let’s configure our environment:

robot@ev3dev:~$ gcloud init

This will take about 6 minutes:

Welcome! This command will take you through the configuration of gcloud.

Your current configuration has been set to: [default]

You can skip diagnostics next time by using the following flag:
 gcloud init --skip-diagnostics

Network diagnostic detects and fixes local network connection issues.
Checking network connection...done. 
Reachability Check passed.
Network diagnostic (1/1 checks) passed.

You must log in to continue. Would you like to log in (Y/n)? Y

Go to the following link in your browser:

Just copy the link in last paragraph and open it on your browser. You will need to login with a valid Google account. Mine was already associated with a project (‘ev3-pd’) because I already started testing the APIs on the laptop so I picked that project but you can also create a new one.

You will get a verification code like this:


Just copy&past it to the last prompt to continue

Enter verification code: 6/vzSXbihAPCTeewAazTZo0YqL49qYDFUcuIR0HBDWnvz

You are logged in as: [].

Pick cloud project to use: 
 [1] ev3-pd
 [2] Create a new project
Please enter numeric choice or text value (must exactly match list 
item): 1

Your current project has been set to: [ev3-pd].

Do you want to configure Google Compute Engine 
( settings (Y/n)? Y

Which Google Compute Engine zone would you like to use as project 
If you do not specify a zone via a command line flag while working 
with Compute Engine resources, the default is assumed.
 [1] asia-east1-a
 [2] asia-east1-b
 [3] asia-east1-c
 [4] asia-northeast1-b
 [5] asia-northeast1-c
 [6] asia-northeast1-a
 [7] asia-southeast1-b
 [8] asia-southeast1-a
 [9] europe-west1-d
 [10] europe-west1-c
 [11] europe-west1-b
 [12] europe-west2-a
 [13] europe-west2-b
 [14] europe-west2-c
 [15] us-central1-c
 [16] us-central1-f
 [17] us-central1-a
 [18] us-central1-b
 [19] us-east1-c
 [20] us-east1-b
 [21] us-east1-d
 [22] us-east4-a
 [23] us-east4-b
 [24] us-east4-c
 [25] us-west1-a
 [26] us-west1-b
 [27] us-west1-c
 [28] Do not set default zone
Please enter numeric choice or text value (must exactly match list 
item): 9

Your project default Compute Engine zone has been set to [europe-west1-d].
You can change it by running [gcloud config set compute/zone NAME].

Your project default Compute Engine region has been set to [europe-west1].
You can change it by running [gcloud config set compute/region NAME].

Created a default .boto configuration file at [/home/robot/.boto]. See this file and
[] for more
information about configuring Google Cloud Storage.
Your Google Cloud SDK is configured and ready to use!

* Commands that require authentication will use by default
* Commands will reference project `ev3-pd` by default
* Compute Engine commands will use region `europe-west1` by default
* Compute Engine commands will use zone `europe-west1-d` by default

Run `gcloud help config` to learn how to change individual settings

This gcloud configuration is called [default]. You can create additional configurations if you work with multiple accounts and/or projects.
Run `gcloud topic configurations` to learn more.

Some things to try next:

* Run `gcloud --help` to see the Cloud Platform services you can interact with. And run `gcloud help COMMAND` to get help on any gcloud command.
* Run `gcloud topic -h` to learn about advanced features of the SDK like arg files and output formatting

Since I already activated a service account for my project I already had a JSON file with a private authorization key to use (if you don’t know how to do it look here). I copied it from my laptop as ‘EV3-PD.json’ and defined a path variable for Goggle Cloud SDK to find it when needed:

robot@ev3dev:~$ export GOOGLE_APPLICATION_CREDENTIALS=/home/robot/EV3-PD.json

This key allows us to generate an access token that grants access to Google Cloud APIs for the next 3600 seconds:

robot@ev3dev:~$ gcloud auth application-default print-access-token


And we are now able to use Skynet The Cloud for our most CPU intensive tasks. Next post I will show how to transcript voice to text through Google Cloud Speech API.

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